Inher­it­ing Anne Frank

Jacque­line van Maarsen; Bri­an Doyle, trans.
  • Review
By – August 31, 2011
The sec­ond part of the mem­oirs of Anne Frank’s child­hood friend weaves togeth­er her own wartime and post-wartime rec­ol­lec­tions and the process through which the author of one of the world’s most famous diaries achieved almost myth­i­cal sta­tus as a sym­bol of the Holo­caust. Van Maarsen has been invit­ed to speak about her friend in places as far-flung as Con­necti­cut and Japan.
 It is chill­ing to know the dif­fer­ent fates the two friends met: Frank dying of typhus in Buchen­wald after hid­ing in the Secret Annex and van Maarsen saved because her moth­er was able to prove the non-Jew­ish sta­tus of her chil­dren. With an abid­ing affec­tion and admi­ra­tion for Frank, van Maarsen deplores the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of her friend’s lega­cy. She is even more dis­turbed, how­ev­er, by those who cap­i­tal­ize on that fame dis­hon­est­ly — includ­ing one woman in par­tic­u­lar who claimed a friend­ship with Frank van Maarsen says nev­er exist­ed.
Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we are nev­er giv­en Eva Schloss’s side of the sto­ry. But the greater issue is that van Maarsen her­self can­not escape her friend’s celebri­ty.” Read­ers may find them­selves skip­ping those sec­tions of the book that don’t deal with Frank. The truth is, with­out that con­nec­tion, van Maarsen’s sto­ry as writ­ten is not as compelling.
Bar­bara Train­in Blank is a free­lance jour­nal­ist and arts previewer/​reviewer, as well as some­time play­wright based in Har­ris­burg, PA.

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